Nova Scotia farmers are becoming increasingly aware of habitat conservation across the province. Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation Plans (ABC Plans) are specifically tailored for individual farms, and identify habitats and activities on the agricultural landscape that support biodiversity (biodiversity is any type of wildlife diversity that is found on a landscape, including both plants and animals as well as the interactions found between them). ABC Plans suggest ways to maintain and increase the biodiversity component within the scope of the farm operation, and they can be an important tool for farmers to identify practices that promote the maintenance and the enhancement of biodiversity on their farms.
These plans provide farmers with realistic and specifically tailed land-use options that support biodiversity and habitat conservation, which is mutually beneficial for both wildlife and the farm operation.
To help farmers become more aware of how their farms contribute to Nova Scotia’s biodiversity and how they can continue to support this diversity, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NS-DNR) has developed the ABC Plan program in partnership with various organizations, including Wildlife Habitat Canada, and Ducks Unlimited. Landowners have the opportunity to have a free Ecological Resource Assessment completed on their farms. The goals of this assessment are to:
- Identify and map existing wildlife habitats on the farm.
- Identify areas of the farm that are currently supporting biodiversity and suggest ways that could potentially further benefit this diversity as well as the farm itself.
- Develop a specifically tailored plan for the landowners, recognizing the current and potential beneficial management practices that enhance wildlife habitat and biodiversity on the farm.
After the assessment is completed, landowners will receive a plan that will summarize the findings, along with any suggestions for land enhancements and possible funding sources that can help support farmland biodiversity. This program is free, and implementation of any of the recommendations is on a voluntary basis at the landowner’s discretion.
These assessments can be completed anywhere throughout the province of Nova Scotia! The program has been running for 10 years, and to date over 14,000 hectares of farmland (167 farms) have been assessed.
ABC Plan assessments start as soon as the snow melts, and assessments will continue until the snow hits the ground again! It’s a long field season, so NS-DNR is always keeping its eyes and ears open for interested participants.
Are you interested?
Are you a Nova Scotia farmer looking to understand a little more about biodiversity on your farm, and want to learn more about what species you might find across your properties? Give DNR a call or send an e-mail to get more information about the program! They’ve started getting a list together of people who are interested in taking part in the program for this upcoming field season (2017), so get in touch with them and they’ll work with you to figure out when they can come do the biodiversity assessment on your farm. The assessment take anywhere from an afternoon to a couple of days, depending on the size of the farm (most take about a day to complete), and land owners are welcome to join the DNR employee while the assessment is completed or simply let them look at the property on their own. A full biodiversity report will be returned to the landowners within a couple of weeks of the assessment, with habitat overviews, images of the farm and maps. Simply get in touch to find out more information!
Conservation Program Specialist
NSDNR – Wildlife Division